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Rare dinosaur skeleton turned over to researchers

The Bismarck Tribune

Great Falls, MT

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A rare and nearly complete dinosaur skeleton stolen from private property in Montana and stored in an evidence locker for more than two years has been turned over to researchers.

Scientists at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota say the 70-million-year-old turkey-sized predator could be a new species of raptor.

"It's a mean and nasty little dinosaur," said Peter Larson, president of the institute. "Even though it's not very big, you wouldn't want to meet it in a dark alleyway."

Researchers say it's unusual to find the skeleton of a meat-eating dinosaur, and especially one that's so small.

The commercial fossil hunter who dug up the dinosaur removed it without the knowledge or permission of the property owners. Nathan Murphy was convicted last year in state court of felony theft for taking the raptor fossil from a ranch in northern Montana and sentenced to 60 days in jail.

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